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Canadian Museum of History’s CEO resigns amid probe into allegations of workplace harassment

mark o neill

The CEO of the Canadian Museum of History, who was at the centre of a workplace harassment investigation, has resigned just two months before his official retirement date.

Mark O’Neill was the subject of a complaint last summer that prompted the investigation. Sources have told Radio-Canada that the complaint was related to O’Neill’s management style and his temperament. 

The investigation was finished in late January and submitted to Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault.

The federal government has not provided an update to the public on the situation at the museum or its response to the investigation.

O’Neill’s departure was confirmed by the museum in a statement on Wednesday.

“The board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of History has received the resignation of museum director Mark O’Neill, effective April 6. A permanent director of the Canadian Museum of History is expected to be appointed soon,” said Bill Walker, a spokesperson for the museum.

O’Neill was named president and CEO of the Museum of History in 2011. His second five-year mandate was due to end in June this year.

Investigation results never made public

Neither the museum nor O’Neill provided additional information on the circumstances surrounding his departure.

In a statement, O’Neill said the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum are among Canada’s “great cultural institutions.”

“It was an honour to lead them, in service to our country. Over 33 years in the public service, I was privileged to work with some extraordinary people. Canadians should be grateful for their talent, commitment and effort,” O’Neill said. 

O’Neill went on sick leave shortly after the complaint was filed last summer.

The allegations were investigated by lawyer Michelle Flaherty, who finished her report into the matter in January. The museum’s board of trustees provided the report to the government along with a single recommendation.

The report and the board’s recommendation were never made public.

A spokesperson for Guilbeault’s office said last month that legal considerations prevented it from providing further explanations to the public.

“The applicable law in such matters dictates adherence to a defined process and protects all parties involved by requiring its confidentiality,” said Guilbeault’s press secretary, Camille Gagné-Raynauld. “Our government intends to comply with all of its obligations, both in terms of complaint handling and the confidentiality of the process.”

The federal government has recently dealt with allegations of harassment and toxic workplaces at Rideau Hall, which led to the resignation of now former governor general Julie Payette, as well as in the Canadian Armed Forces.

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